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Margaret and David Hamilton first arrived in Fairlie Creek around 1866. At that time it was a settlement of a few houses and an accommodation house run by Margaret Hamilton's brother James Paton Litster.

The story of their journey to New Zealand had started several years earlier. David Hamilton was said to be a "ships providor" and at the time of his marriage was living in New York. His bride was Margaret Litster, daughter of David Litster a factor from Bridgeton in Glasgow. Legend has it that she crossed the Atlantic to avoid a planned marriage to a cousin. Here in 1859 she married David Hamilton, also from Glasgow. They honeymooned in Fairlie, Scotland. The following May Margaret now pregnant with her first child, and her brother James Paton Litster, sailed in 1860 on the "Henrietta" for Port Chalmers, New Zealand. The journey has been detailed in the diary of George Graham which is held in the Otago Early Settlers Museum. On July 27th Margaret was delivered of her daughter Margaret Paton Hamilton on board the "Henrietta". The brother, sister and child arrived in New Zealand in September. No word of David Hamilton. Indeed the Hamilton family is not heard of until 1863, when Margaret Litster Hamilton was born in Port Adelaide, Australia.

David & Margaret Hamilton circa.1860 (A daguerreotype)

In the meantime James P Litster had returned to Scotland where he was married.  James  married Agnes Telfer on 9 August 1864 in Bridgeton, Glasgow.  The young couple sailed for New Zealand and on arrival James purchased land from Dr.Kimbell who owned the "Three Springs Run". He built an accommodation house which was later converted into a livery stable. In 1866 the Hamilton's joined the Litsters at Fairlie Creek. Here Margaret helped in running the accommodation house and also acted as postmisstress. It had been suggested that this early settlement should be named Hamilton after this pioneer family, but it would have led to confusion with Hamilton in Waikato. It was Fairlie Creek when the first post office was opened, but on June 1 1892 the name was shortened to "Fairlie".

Between 1871 and 1872 James Litster and his family went back to Scotland where where Thomas Forrester Litster was born in Kirn (the couple must have been living with David Litster, J P's father). James died in 1874 in Bridgeton of tuberculosis whilst living with his father. I think that must have been why they left New Zealand.

The Hamilton's built a stone house in Fairlie which stood until 1929 when it was pulled down and some of the stones used to build the soldiers war Memorial (recently demolished). David Hamilton was remembered by some as a good raconteur; he was also an elder of the Church. He drowned in 1877 and left his wife to raise four young children. Margaret was active in the community for many years and is recalled by some as being a large woman always wearing black. She visited her family in Scotland on several occasions, once taking her only son James to visit his Grandfather. Margaret died in her 83 year and is buried in Fairlie with members of her family.
On leaving NZ he and his family returned to Scotland. 
This page may be freely linked to but not duplicated in any fashion except for private study. �2000  Alison de Caen

South CanterburyGenWeb Project


From the Timaru Herald, September 2nd 1865.
page 5, column 1, lower left hand corner.
Off the NZ National Library wonderful